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Roped for Reprisals

Heroes Remember

Then they barricaded the whole camp, shut down one day and the big announcement on the PA system, “All the Dieppe personnel out into the parade ground.” So we go out to our parade ground, what the hell has happened? Then we see about two hundred soldiers marching down with their machine guns and everything into our compound and they ringed us and they put all these machine guns in front of us and they’re setting there with a madness. So what the hell is happening, they don’t tell us nothing. Then their commander comes down to read the riot act. It seems that in the Battle of Dieppe that some Germans were taken prisoner by some company and they had their hands tied behind their backs which was against rules, well that’s true and they were shot. So in reprisals, the Germans will be tying all you guys up like this with ropes until we feel that we have been compensated. And now we got reprisals. So from then on, from six o’clock in the morning until nine o’clock at night we had to go up and the guard tied us like that with these creosote, the ropes that were taken off our red cross parcels they used to tie us and the creosote used to burn your skin and they tied us like that until nine o’clock at night. And if you were caught trying to undo them or get out of them, now we had guards posted every so often in the compound, that’s what all these guards were for, to keep an eye on us that we couldn’t do anything and, of course, you had to do everything like this and, you know, go to the washroom. They had a couple of our RAP guys, stretcher bearers, who were released and their job was to take us to the washroom. This is this big latrine, eh. We had to go there and they had to clean us up and that because we couldn’t do it our self. We couldn’t reach. They had the dirty job of doing that. And we could only go two or three at a time and the guard would check you and back. After three months of going through this, the German doctor decided that we’re all going to be dead because we have no lung expansion, we have no exercise, couldn’t move and we’re going to die of lung congestion so they got to do something about it. So they come up with these chains. You see a pair in the museum, there’s a pair in there of the actual chains that we wore. And you put these chains on, they’re about that far apart. You could put your hands in your pocket and have your chains across here, eh. And that give us room to manoeuvre so we got the chains on at six in the morning until nine at night. Well, we could do a little more with the chains and they still had the guards on us but now as many. And if you got caught without your chains or unhooking your chains you got beat up and sent to straff; bread and water and everything else.

When German military found some of their own, hand bound and executed on the shores of Dieppe, they decided to bind the prisoners.

Joseph Anthony Ryan

Joseph Anthony Ryan was born in Montreal in 1920. The circumstances during the depression era saw him and his family moving to Thunder Bay, Ontario in search of a better life. Like many during this time, applying to Canada’s military was a way to find work, adventure and purpose, so in the late 30’s he joined the Lake Superior Regiment and began his training alongside the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians). From participating in operations from Iceland to Dieppe to his time as a prisoner of war in Germany, Joseph Ryan’s stories bring us a unique perspective on the price paid for our freedom.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
May 5, 2009
Person Interviewed:
Joseph Anthony Ryan
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Royal Regiment of Canada

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